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Being Conscious


by Michael E. Kirk, PhD
Dr. Kirk is a local clinical psychologist, father and grandfather, who specializes in working with families, adolescents, and children.

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A father reports that his son is forever talking back to him. “I tell him to get something done, but he just starts questioning me,” says father. He stated that they always end up getting into a “huge argument,” and he ends up “exploding” on his son. “I feel bad about it later, but the kid just keeps arguing. He won’t shut up.” The father reports that he is tired of this type of behavior but says, “I don’t know what to do.”

Certainly the father knows what to do, but it appears to be the inappropriate thing. Questioning the father as to where he learned this type of Parenting, he has no real answer. “I just do it,” he says and shrugs. Father is also questioned regarding what he and his son do together besides argue. Again, he just shrugs and says, “I don’t know.” Is this Parenting at its best?

Later, the father was asked, “When you and your son fight, what does it remind you of?” He immediately responds with, “My old man. He would yell at me no matter what I did.” The father almost immediately begins to tear, watery eyes recognizing almost immediately what has been going on, “Oh my gosh. I have become my father!” He reports, “My father wouldn’t ever give me a chance to talk. I always felt as if he wished I wasn’t even there.”

Problem is that this father is relying on what his memory tells him to do rather than thinking about what he could do. The human brain can fire a message at a half a millionth of a second. The brain will enact the behavior before you know it. That is where the yelling comes in, as the father reported that he always felt bad after the fight, not when they were fighting. What is happening here is that the father is allowing HIS father to parent his son rather than relying on his own skill to complete the task. It is the memory of his father’s Parenting that he is using to parent his own son rather than using his own adult intelligence to interact with him. In the end, this father had to recognize that he was simply not conscious as he attempted to parent his son. He was merely allowing the old and imperfect memory of his father to dictate his behavior as a parent.

We must be present as the adult parent of our child to parent correctly and successfully. Stop and consider what you are about to do, hold off the impulse to yell or scream, and consider just how useful you wish this behavior to be. When you do stop and think about what you are going to do, you become a present-time, conscious parent. By resisting the impulse to act the way your parent taught you, you can come up with your own idea. Be attentive to your child, use a considerate voice, and gently touch your child when speaking to him or her. When the child chooses a behavior that you find disagreeable, then stop talking and walk away. Wait until your child has decided to think as well and becomes considerate, then you can speak with him or her. Your patience and consideration will be catching. The more you display this behavior, the more you child will have a chance to observe you with it and eventually display it him or herself.

Being conscious about your behaviors will allow you to live in the real world with your child and be a successful parent. Your child will feel better about him or herself, and then his or her behavior will gradually improve. It’s a decision you can make about being the parent. Or, if you prefer, your memory of your parent can continue to direct your child’s sense of self-esteem. It is a move of which you might want to be conscious.

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Tags: Featured Story, Parenting


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